The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face off with Guinea-Bissau in the last game of Group D having already qualified for the Round of 16 as group winners.
AFCON 2021: 3 Guinea-Bissau players for the Super Eagles to worry about
Guinea-Bissau have a squad of underrated players, here are three of their best players who could shine against Nigeria on Wednesday.
While this is a low stakes game for Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau are in a completely different situation as they have to win this game to have a chance to qualify for the next round as one of the best third-place teams.
Guinea-Bissau have just one point from their first two games when in truth they should have three or four. ‘Djurtus’ -as they are otherwise known- spurned several clear-cut chances including a late penalty in their goalless draw with Sudan and had a wonder-goal controversially ruled out in the 1-0 loss to Egypt.
Although they did not get the desired result on both occasions, several Guinea-Bissau players put up admirable performances in those games. With Nigeria set to make changes because this is not an important game for them, Guinea-Bissau could beat the Super Eagles in what is a must-win clash for them.
If they were to achieve that difficult feat, they will need all their players playing at their best, especially these three:
Guinea-Bissau central midfielder, Moreto Cassama is a key component of the team as he dictates play from the heart of their midfield. The 23-year old has been Guinea-Bissau’s most consistent performer in both Group D games, and Nigeria would have to be wary of his threat.
The majority of Cassama’s threat is defensive rather than offensive as he is yet to score or assist in any of his previous 14 appearances for Guinea-Bissau, but here is what he can do.
Against Sudan, Cassama had 81% pass accuracy, won 11 duels won, completed three of his four attempted dribbles and had five recoveries.
In the next game against Egypt, he completed 77% of his passes including three accurate long balls, won seven duels, completed 50% of his dribbles, had six recoveries and was not dispossessed despite the best efforts of the Egyptian midfield.
For context, Nigeria’s Wilfried Ndidi also won seven duels against Egypt but was dispossessed twice.
Moreto Cassama has displayed enough ability and potential for Stade Reims in the French Ligue 1 and the Guinea-Bissau national team for Nigeria to pay him special attention on Wednesday.
If Augustine Eguavoen decides to not rest Moses Simon on Wednesday, then this could potentially be an exciting match-up to look forward to.
Moses Simon plays on Nigeria’s left wing which means he will be up against Guinea-Bissau’s right back, Jefferson Encada.
Why is this a big deal? 22-year old Jefferson Encada is one of the best two-way fullbacks in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. He is a menace defensively while also capable of marauding down the wing to join the attack.
He was the best player on the pitch in the game against Sudan and will be keen to get one over on Moses Simon, who has been Nigeria’s best player at AFCON 2021.
Encada is originally a winger which explains why he is such a threat going forward but his defensive capabilities have been evident in the previous games as well.
Mama Balde was the player involved in the aforementioned controversy against Egypt after his goal was disallowed (wrongly, in my opinion) for a foul in the build-up.
Balde had received the ball in his left-wing position and won a tussle with the Egyptian right back before lashing home what would have been a goal of the tournament contender if VAR had not intervened to rule out the goal.
That single moment captures the threat Mama Balde could pose to the Super Eagles, physicality and great finishing.
Guinea-Bissau have proven in their last two games that creating chances is not a problem for them and in that moment, Balde also showed that if he gets a chance he will most likely tuck it away.
So perhaps the only reason Guinea-Bissau are still yet to score in this tournament is that none of their chances have fallen for Mama Balde, the Super Eagles must do their best to keep it that way.